Service charges – all views welcome please!

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  • #22168
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Any views and / or experiences on a growing clamour to pay these?

    a) digital TV replacement and masts. About £1 per week. Analogue is being switched off I know so will HB pick up the huge replacement bill?

    b) furniture costs where the furniture will be given to the tenant at the end of the period (three years maybe?). The regulation on this is
    Sch 1 – 1 (b) and seems clear to me BUT I have a sneaking suspicion this is not as uncommon as I had thought in the entire RSL sector. Any comments or knowledge about this folks?

    c) CTV cameras at about £1 per week.

    d) Conciege and security services ranging between £12 and £62 per week. I am aware of the “reasonable” arguments etc. but of course most of these charges were supposed and indeed were transferred to supporting people pots. However, funding for this continues to fall and / or SP teams have decided NOT to pay for such schemes to continue.

    DWP advise that many of these charges should not come back into HB and the amounts are considerable. But without much tighter legislative controls, I am doubtful if we can resist many of these requests.

    Views please?

    #6923
    simonh
    Participant

    The only one of these I have come across is the CCTV to monitor the entrance area to our local Womens Refuge. I considered turing it down as forming part of the emergency alarm system, but because of the relatively small amount (approx £1.00 wk) compared to other areas (they were trying to increase the eligible rent from £150.00 to £240.00) I didn’t bother arguing it in the end.

    #6924
    derek_S
    Participant

    Slightly puzzled at why you think concierge and security should come out of supporting people pot.

    Concierge is clearly a communal service related to the building and environment – how can you relate this to a “pesonal service” which is what the supporting people pot is for?? :15:

    #6925
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Quote from the 1999 Circular

    “Controlling access is one of a number of “concierge type” services which relate to the provision of adequate accommodation. It may fall to be treated as eligible as part of the “rent”, depending on the circumstances of the individual case. The cost can be treated as a “support” charge where the service is provided to address the specific needs of a particular group of tenants”.

    In my experience, these charges WERE rightly transferred to the SP pot. It really wasn’t hard to make a case for this.

    #6926
    Andy Shanks
    Participant

    b) furniture costs where the furniture will be given to the tenant at the end of the period (three years maybe?). The regulation on this is
    Sch 1 – 1 (b) and seems clear to me BUT I have a sneaking suspicion this is not as uncommon as I had thought in the entire RSL sector. Any comments or knowledge about this folks?

    I think that Frays Charitable Housing do this [they are under the paradigm [spelling?]] umbrella

    #6927
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Further to the issue of service charges, we have been informed by the Housing department that they are planning to introduce a whole raft of new service charges that they would like covered by HB, including tree-pruning, CCTV, concierge and security patrols.

    We are still deciding whether or not these are eligible and was wondering what peoples thoughts are on whether they are acceptable, especially security patrols. They have not mentioned whether they would be for every flat or just certain estates but it would cost a very large amount of money to have security patrols for every council property and would not seem to be practical.

    Thanks

    #6928
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Here, we pay a service charge for furniture (this is primarily for homeless people who have been given a secure tenancy), but we made the point very clearly that under no circumstances can this become the claimants property. What happens then is that after 3 years the claimant gets the opportunity to buy the furniture for a nominal sum!!!

    #6929
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I agree as well that many RSL’s are trying thier hardest to get ineligible service charges subsumed within the rent charge!! On a number of occasions I have been told quite openly that they need to do this to survive as the SP budget is so stretched!!!

    #6930
    jmembery
    Participant

    As you say, the furniture issue appears clearly covered by Sch 1 -1(b) so I don’t really see an argument here, even if the practice is common.

    With the other areas the question is are they “connected with the provision of adequate accommodation”.

    I don’t think “adequate” is defined in the regs (unless anyone knows better!!)
    So you have to use the dictionary definition such as “Sufficient, satisfactory” (Little Oxford).

    I would be asking two questions of your Housing Department.
    1) Why are these needed to make the accommodation “adequate”
    2) If they are needed to make some accommodation adequate why are they not needed on all properties.

    If the answer relates to the needs of the particular tenant you can point to the advice in the guidance manual

    “The accommodation must be adequate as accommodation in general, not just with regard to the particular tenant.”

    As usual, this is, of course, only guidance and I was recently made aware of some caselaw that could be argued to run contrary to the DWP advice.

    #6931
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    This subject was discussed at yesterdays Current Legal Issues day and will be in Leeds next week. It apears to me that security patrols are more to do with protecting the landlord’s property. There might arguably be an element that is eligible but going back to basics for a moment:

    “Supporting People is a partnership between Government and local community services designed to help vulnerable people live independently in the community by providing them with a range of [b:038d3e1714]housing support services[/b:038d3e1714]. Due to be introduced from 2003, Supporting People will effectively inherit that portion of Housing Benefit expenditure that had previously met charges levied for support services”.

    “In my judgment the real question here is not whether the services given are directed to maintaining the claimant in his accommodation, as Mr Drabble submits, but whether they are directed to ensuring that his accommodation is adequate” (Mr Justice Laws from the original Sandys case). https://hbinfo.org/menu2/caselaw/sandys97.shtml

    #6932
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I know this is digging up an old thread but i wondered if there were any advances in interpreting “provision of adequate accommodation” especially with respect to night concierge staff. I have been trying to help a colleague whose supported scheme’s charges are being scrutinised- SP have agreed that 25% of the work is Support but the HB dept are querying the remaining 75% of the time.
    Peter DLM’s last prting suggested there would be some more legal discussion the week after (ie end Nov 2006) and I wondered if anything had come out of it. Or failing that if there’s anything else new and interesting to read??
    thanks

    #6933
    jmembery
    Participant

    Someone (I forget who sorry whoever you are) posted part of a reply they received from the DWP whic, although only guidance, appeared quite clear.

    concierge service etc are made ineligible through sub-paragraph 1(g) of schedule 1 to the HB regulations as it relates to the security of the accommodation and not to it’s adequacy

    #6934
    jmembery
    Participant

    Just found it, it was Junderwo on this thread.

    https://hbinfo.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8331&highlight=adequacy

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